Inter-generational Families

My grandmother turns 98 today.  What a wonderful gift it is to be connected to generations before us.  I have been blessed to have a relationship with all of my grandparents well into my adulthood.  In fact, three of my grandparents and one of my husband’s all met our child.

Getting older

The 2016 Canadian census discovered that, for the first time since Confederation, the number of seniors 65 and older is actually larger than the number of children 14 and younger.  This change includes a significant increase in the number of those over 85 and in the number of individuals over 100.  (Click here for more information)

The times are changing…

My grandmother was born in 1920.  She was a child through the roaring 20’s and a teenager through the Great Depression.  She married during the Second World War and began to have children as it was ending contributing to the baby boom. She was alive when Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon and when JFK and Martin Luther King were shot.  She remembers when Trudeau senior was Prime Minister of Canada.  Her family is in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of two families where 11 children celebrated 50 years of marriage or more.  A lot has happened over the life span of my grandmother, the changes are incredible.

Honouring our story…

It is a blessing to have four generations come together to celebrate milestones.  From our grandparents we glimpse our past and connect to a story that is larger than ourselves.  Perhaps this is why there has been considerable interest in exploring our history through sites like ancestry.ca.  Having someone available to fill in the blanks for us can be a meaningful resource in discovering who we are in this larger picture.

Sometimes it helps to get creative in our efforts to keep family close.  Years ago, our child entered that phase when there are monsters under the bed around the same time as we lost my maternal grandparents.  As a result, one night I simply explained to my kid that it wasn’t monsters under the bed, but rather it was great grandparents visiting.  This became a fun game as my kid wanted to know what these individuals might be doing.  It created space from which to share a bit about my grandparents.  One of my grandfathers played piano, they were both teases.  I would say they were kibitzing around until my grandmother would yell: “Harold, Bernard, stop that! Don’t you know the child’s trying to sleep”.  That’s exactly what she would have said.  These conversations have helped to keep one generation close to another.

What do you do?

What do you know about your family’s history?  How is that shared from one generation to the next?  To what extent are you able to connect to the generations before and after yourself?  How has this proved meaningful for you?  Recently we hosted an inter-generational BBQ to celebrate graduation milestones.  Click here for a video of participants sharing their wisdom.  Watch for more opportunities to include all of the generations at our Thrive! Dinners.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/